Vision Conference Tour Features Robotics/Sensing Breakthrough, Large Grower

With Farm Progress Show wrapping up just yesterday, and our own Innovation Series having closed it’s doors on 2017 this past Monday with a fantastic meeting in Champaign, IL, at the I Hotel, with those events in the rear view and the start of the NFL regular season now under a week away, I suppose it’s safe to say summer is pretty much shot, folks.

Here at Meister, we know turn out focus to our typically busy fall season, starting with The Ohio State University’s Farm Science Review show in mid-September and book-ended by our own Vision Conference — now in its second iteration — in Phoenix.

Now, not to toot our own horn here too much (commence with the horn tooting), but the upcoming pre-show tour for our 2017 PrecisionAg Vision Conference (Oct. 10-12 in Phoenix, AZ) has two really interesting visits, one of which includes the largest remote sensing robot in the entire world.

Germany-based ag tech startup Lemnatec’s massively-scaled Field Scanalyzer phenotyping robot is the subject of tour stop number one at the University of Arizona’s Maricopa Agricultural Center.

A particularly inventive combination of galvanized steel, remote sensing, automation/robotics, and IoT capabilities, Field Scanalyzer’s advanced sensor payload hovers above the field, dashing back and forth on a motorized gantry and system of ground rails as it scans plant biomass below for high-yielding sorghum that can be used in biofuel applications. Typically, plant phenotyping is a labor intense, not-very automated process, and Field Scanalyzer is a good start at disrupting that process with technology.

Plus, we’ve learned that many plant phenotyping operations are using drones to accomplish the remote sensing part of the equation, but really it is impossible to match the amount of advanced sensors Field Scanalyzer deploys at one time (RGB Visible, Laser, Hyperspectral, P2 Fluorescence, Fluorescence, Infrared and Near Infrared) with any current drone technology on the market. Basically, instead of doing six drone flights with separate sensor payloads (and having to take the time to land, switch out sensors and replace batteries) each flight for data collection, Field Scanalyzer gets the job done in a much more efficient manner (although I’d guess that massive automated gantry probably costs just a little bit more than a DJI Phantom 4 Pro).

Now, is this type of setup going to be economically feasible for every row crop plant phenotyping operation out there? Of course not.

But with our Vision Conference part of the value proposition includes looking into the future of big ideas and applications of ag tech, and we feel Lemnatec’s Field Scanalyzer fits the bill in that regard. Plus, the company has scaled-down the same tech for greenhouse and even smaller indoor production systems, so it’s not always going to need a massive steel gantry like the system we will see at Maricopa.

Large, Intergated Grower Visit

The second stop on the tour features Ak-Chin Farms Enterprise, which is the Ak-Chin tribe’s 16,000 acre agriculture operation featuring various advanced irrigation and water management technologies. Cotton barley, potatoes, alfalfa and corn (yes, Corn!) are the primary crops that provide the tribal community with $9.6 million in annual income.

So, if any of the aforementioned tickles your fancy, feel free to join us a day early in Phoenix for a pre-conference tour that appears to be anything but your typical pre-conference tour. Today is the deadline for our earliest early bird discount, but we’ve still got discounted registrations available until Oct. 3. (There’s also discounts for multiple attendees from the same company)

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